Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 1
Amount of time to play: 60-180 min
Age requirements: 12+
Set-up time: 10 minutes
Cruel Necessity is a solitaire war game about the English Civil Wars. You must stop four advancing armies from destroying your ideals and hold onto London.
Cruel Necessity is the latest game in the States of Siege Series by Victory Point Games. If you are familiar with the series you will have basic understanding of this game.
The game is divided onto three phases representing the three civil wars. Each phase uses a different deck of cards. During this time you need to keep the enemy forces from entering and destroying London while keeping the political situation from going in the toilet.
On your turn you flip the top Event Card and resolve it from top to bottom. It will determine if there is a battle, which of the attacking armies advance and which political tracks move up or down. (Take my word for it, it is usually down.)
If there is a battle you play it out on the Battle Mat. You draw six units numbered two to six randomly and they fight head to head. Some units have you draw from the battle event deck. These events may happen automatically and help either side in the fight. Other events are cards you can play during a later battle and usually give you an advantage. You roll one six-sided die for each unit, add that to the unit’s rank and compare the totals. If one unit’s total is two or higher than the other unit’s total it defeats that unit. If not it is a draw. After all six fights are resolved you determine the outcome of the battle. If three or more of your units won their fights you claim victory. But if three or more are defeated you lose the battle. Any other result is a draw. Victory on the battlefield can help you on the main board, but defeat can hurt you.
The Event Card may has a chance to be an Achievement. You can have three of these available to earn, but must meet certain criteria to gain them. They are worth VPs and cost Zeal.
After the card is resolved you take actions by spending Zeal. You get Zeal based on the number of fortresses you control. And can hold some from round to round. But you max out at nine and usually get five back each round.
The actions you can take let you move armies back up their tracks, attack enemy fortresses, fortify friendly fortresses or try to adjust a political track. To move an army back you need to roll higher than its strength (which gain be adjusted up or down for the turn by the event card). Likewise the political track has numbers on it and to move a counter upwards you need to roll higher than the number showing in the slot you want to move it to.
Fortresses stop armies from advancing and start with a strength of two. When attacking fortresses you or the enemy must roll above its strength. The counters are cut to show the fortresses current strength and turned when hit or fortified.
At the end of each turn you check to see if you no longer control London or you have four or more political counters at the bottom of their track.
You continue through the decks until you finish all the events. Before the second and third decks you check your score and if you are doing well you gain some advantages. Once you finish card sixty you have finished the game and tally your VPs.
Cruel Necessity is a fun, theme-filled solo war game. Like other games in the States of Siege series you must keep advancing armies at bay. You also need to manage your Zeal and the political tracks.
The components for the boxed edition are nice. The art looks nice and the counters are well made. The rules are detailed and though intimidating at first they are easy to follow. Since the components are laser cut you will need to clean the pieces after you punch them. This has been true of all of Victory Point Games with upgraded components. I will say this is the first time soot got on some of the white pieces which is annoying. Maybe I should have washed my hands more while cleaning them up.
Like I have said there are some similarities between Cruel Necessity and the other games in the State of Siege series. But it has some nice unique aspects too. I like the way the fortresses work and mark their strength. Their strength can range from two to four and it’s marked with a counter that has a cut out that shows the current strength. When the strength changes you simply rotate the counter and it shows the new strength.
Many solo games have a lot to deal with and this one is no different. Each turn you have more to act on than you have Zeal. It is key you act on the right areas and each decision you make matters.
The combat system is nice and flows well once you have run through it a few times. Just know draws happen a lot and some events can really help or hurt you.
There are a couple things to note about the game. First if you are going to play through all three phases it can be pretty long. The game does get quicker once you’ve played it a couple times. Also the dice and cards can gang up to make this game really hard. Good decision-making can overcome bad luck but you may have games where the randomness of the dice and cards make it tough.
If you enjoy other games in this series you should pick up Cruel Necessity. If you are interested in the English Civil Wars you will also enjoy this game.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction N/A
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 4 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6